4K Action

'John Wick: Chapter 2' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: Bullet hell, action heaven

June 7, 2017Ben MK

Eighteen years ago, Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne helped redefine action movies when they starred in The Matrix. Now, on the heels of Reeves' triumphant return to the genre in 2014's John Wick, he and Fishburne are re-teaming for the follow-up, John Wick: Chapter 2. And this time, it ain't just about a puppy.

Picking up immediately after the events of the first film, the sequel finds lean, mean killing machine John Wick (Reeves) ready to retire. One exploded house later, however, and John is en route to Rome, where an assassination gone sideways leaves him dealing with the bullseye painted on his back, as he goes up against a slew of new opponents, including fellow guns-for-hire Cassian (Common) and Ares (Ruby Rose), and basically every single assassin in North America, all of whom are out to claim the $7 million bounty that's been put on his head.

In the bloody mayhem that ensues, returning director Chad Stahelski and returning screenwriter Derek Kolstad make no bones about resurrecting the first movie's kill-or-be-killed scenario, an approach that might otherwise be regarded as lazy, were this any other film. In the world of John Wick, however, one would expect nothing less than another adrenaline-fueled killing spree, which is exactly what this sequel delivers, right down to a reprise of John Wick's cooler-than-cool nightclub sequence, this time set against the backdrop of an ancient Roman fort.

As for Fishburne's role in all of this, it's by no means a major part, but it's one that will bring a smirk to the faces of viewers with fond memories of his and Reeves' reality-bending escapades in The Matrix trilogy. Nonetheless, the reunion is basically the icing on the cake for what is already a kick-ass follow-up to one of the most kick-ass films of all time. And considering that the movie's conclusion clearly sets up a no-holds-barred third installment, one can only hope that Carrie-Anne Moss or Hugo Weaving will eventually make an appearance as well.

From the graphic novel-inspired disc menu to the film itself, John Wick's 4K UHD Blu-ray release is nothing short of reference-quality, thanks to a razor-sharp image, eye-popping HDR coloring (full of vibrant shades of purple, blue, green and red) and endlessly deep blacks, accompanied by a blistering Dolby Atmos sound mix that pulses with gunfire, violent impacts and a throbbing electronic-rock score. To get a better idea of just how stunning this technical presentation is, however, viewers are strongly encouraged to skip to some of the movie's standout action sequences, including a shootout set against the sleek, white backdrop of an ultramodern train station, and a bloody killing spree through a NYC museum, culminating in an Enter the Dragon homage set in a neon-lit hall of mirrors.

Entertainment One's two-disc Ultra HD Blu-ray release includes an iTunes digital copy of the film, a Blu-ray copy and the following 4K/Blu-ray extras:

  • Audio Commentary With Keanu Reeves And Director Chad Stahelski - A casual track in which the pair touch on all aspects of the film, from the stunt work and the fight choreography, to the sound design, the cinematography and the lighting, to the costume design and the score, plus the filming locales, the performances and more.
  • Deleted Scenes (8:05) - Three scenes ("Aurelio," "The Cleaner" and "The Vatican").
  • Retro Wick: Exploring The Unexpected Success of John Wick (4:34) - The filmmakers and the cast share their thoughts on the first film, their approach to the sequel, and where the character goes from here.
  • Training John Wick (12:00) - A look at Reeves' rigorous physical training regimen, the casting of actors like Common and Ruby Rose who can go toe to toe with him, plus the weapons and vehicular training.
  • WICK-vizzed (5:13) - Stunt Coordinator JJ Perry talks about the contributions of the Machado Brothers, 13-time U.S. national gun champion Taran Butler, stunt woman Heidi Moneymaker and Eighty-Seven Eleven Action Design, and their role in planning and previsualizing the film's action sequences.
  • Friends, Confidantes: The Keanu/Chad Partnership (9:54) - Reeves and Stahelski talk about their two-decade long creative partnership, what it's been like to work together since The Matrix, and how they've honed their craft since then.
  • As Above, So Below: The Underworld Of John Wick (5:06) - The filmmakers discuss expanding the mythology of John Wick for the sequel, taking the action to Rome, and returning the story to New York City.
  • Car Fu Ride-Along (4:44) - A look at some of the vehicular mayhem wreaked in the film, from Reeves' own driving to the skills of stunt driver Jeremy Fry.
  • Chamber Check: Evolution Of A Fight Scene (10:08) - A behind-the-scenes look at the making of four of the film's fight sequences.
  • Wick's Toolbox (8:14) - Shooting Trainer Taran Butler gives viewers a look at John Wick's upgraded arsenal, like the Glock 34TTI Combat Master, the AR-15 TR1 and the Benelli M4, plus a look at Wick's more unconventional choice of weapons, from his Mustang to, of course, a pencil.
  • A Museum Tour With Sir Jonathan Wick (2:11) - A tongue-in-cheek tour of the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome, intercut with scenes from the film's climactic shootout.
  • Kill Count (3:09) - A montage of the film's kills, accompanied by a tally of the total body count.
  • Dog Wick Short (1:37) - A tongue-in-cheek riff on the first film, this time, with the dog as the hero.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:40)

John Wick: Chapter 2 is available from Entertainment One as of June 13th, 2017. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio Optimized for Late Night Listening, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH and French SDH subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 2 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on February 6th, 2017.

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